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1780 Broadway and 225-227 57th Street, B.F. Goodrich Company Buildings

WHEREAS, The B.F. Goodrich buildings, located at 1780 Broadway and 225-227 West 57th Street, were constructed in 1909 by BF Goodrich, a leading American manufacturer of automobile tires and other rubber products, and were built for the new automobile industry; and

WHEREAS, They were designed by the noted, prolific and widely respected and significant Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw and are believed to be his only existing work in NYC; and

WHEREAS, They were built at a time when this section of midtown Manhattan was known as “Automobile Row” as its neighbors included A.T Demarest, Peerless Motor Company,  General Motors and others; and

WHEREAS, Though built with separate permits, a rendering that appeared in l909 in the NY Times shows that Goodrich conceived them as a single project – with an unrelated 4-story structure (not being considered for designation) between them -  an L-shaped plan wrapping around and behind the corner lot which apparently Goodrich could not secure; and

WHEREAS, The Broadway building, which served as the company’s headquarters, is 12-stories tall and the west 57th Street building, built as speculative offices, is 8-stories and both originally shared a large freight elevator and steam heating plant, and

WHEREAS, Constructed of red brick and limestone, the steel-frame buildings display similar and complementary tripartite facades. Noted for their distinguished designs, Shaw took his inspiration from the Chicago School and Louis Sullivan and the rare influences of the Viennese Secession are visible in decorative limestone carvings; and

WHEREAS, The Viennese Secession- consisted of a notable group of artists and architects who seceded from the Conservative Academy of Art in Vienna in 1897 to present a new style of architecture which included strong cubic walls, windows with strong horizontal focus and delightful open work metal as seen in the Goodrich buildings and incorporated some of the French Art Nouveau, into an Austrian-German Art Nouveau; and

WHEREAS, In his letter to LPC Chairman Tierney, Andrew Dolkart, Director of Historic Preservation at Columbia’s School of Architecture, said he frequently assigns his students to tour 57th Street since it is lined with “compelling structures” (Goodrich buildings among them), “with their unique designs…emphatically horizontal windows and contrasting brick and limestone, [they] display a fascinating combination of Chicago School attributes and the Beaux Arts forms popular in New York”; and

WHEREAS, Dolkart added, “though it appears to be two separate buildings, it clearly reads as a single integrated design and the L-shape angling around a corner structure is quite powerful and deserves protection in its totality…I wholeheartedly support designation in its entirety”; and

WHEREAS, According to the respected New York Landmarks Conservancy, referring to the Goodrich buildings, they were part of “Automobile Row and are examples of the historic prominence of the Automotive industry in New York City and we commend the Landmarks Preservation Commission for bringing them to a public hearing”; and

WHEREAS, Although there have been some storefront alterations at the ground floor, the buildings appear to be in a good condition with many original details still in existence. (There is netting covering the 57th Street building); therefore be it

RESOLVED,  That Community Board Five recommends designation for the BF Goodrich Buildings located at 1780 Broadway and 225-227 West 57th Street, since they are important for their distinct and distinguished architecture and for the part they played in this city’s culture, representing the important Automotive Industry which played and still pays an enormous role in this city’s history and growth.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 23 in favor; 14 opposed; 1 abstaining.

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